TAYLOR COUNTY—As fans wait anxiously for the decision to be made regarding fall sports, West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Executive Director Bernie Dolan says he is optimistic that there will be a high school football season in the state this year.
Following the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) released guidelines last week for the states to begin implementing restrictions for the return of interscholastic events at the high school level, Dolan commented on the current status of prep football in West Virginia.
“We’re hopeful,” said Dolan. “You may not have fans at all the games, but we certainly hope that we can get the seasons in, even if it is just with players, coaches, and media present.”
Dolan inferred that there are several factors that would lean towards the season actually happening this fall.
To start, West Virginia’s positive test-result numbers have steadied throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the plan by Governor Jim Justice to return to normalcy is progressing into its latter stages.
Dolan also was conscious that circumstances can change from day to day, based on the information that continues to come to light.
“We are planning on moving forward and that everything will be played,” Dolan stated. “Every day, that could change. We have a plan as if it is going to played because you have to be ready.”
Dolan also noted that player safety is of the most important, which is why he decided to object the NFHS’s recommendation of allowing a one-year extension on physical examinations.
He also went onto say that a preseason physical would help those in finding potential issues before competition even began.
“You can’t legislate everybody to be perfectly safe,” explained Dolan. “Just like playing football or any sport, there’s always inherent risks involved. We want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure safety.”
Dolan also said that individual counties would decide on what teams can play and what teams will not. Still, the possibility exists that some counties would be allowed to participate in football and others will not, the same with other sports as well, in the 2020-21 academic year. That is something else that he says is being currently considered.
“I would hope that everybody gets a full 10-game slate,” said Dolan. “We probably would look at adjusting if something happened and some schools had to drop out for a couple weeks. If that happens, we would help other schools try to get those games that they lost. I think we have to plan as if we might have six, eight, 10 games in our regular season going into the playoffs.”
Many counties have now given their coaching staffs the green light on scheduling their three-week summer “live” periods, which are allowed under the SSAC rules, and the general consensus is that most of the state’s football programs will be able to have a season this fall.